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Full text of "NightRider"

210

ing forward thrust of a breaker, or the movement of a field of
grain in the wind. That spectacle always spoke to him of an
inevitability, a surety, a completeness beyond his grasp or,
even, definition. That perfection, that victorious indifference,
filled him with a loneliness which mingled insidiously with
the minute tightening of his muscles and the new tingling
of the blood, like a start of hope, which the sight had
provoked.

During those years spent in Philadelphia, when he was
studying law, that feeling had come to him merely as a
momentary touch of homesickness. One clear afternoon, as
he walked down a quiet street between the rows of dull-
coloured brick houses, the grackles came sweeping over the
roofs, not flying very high, and settled in the trees of a little
park just ahead. He stopped stock-still, one hand on the iron
fence in front of a narrow dooryard. Then, slowly, he
walked on down the street, toward the little park where the
grackles were. In the over-mastering loneliness of that
moment, his whole life seemed to him nothing but vanity.
His past seemed as valueless and as unstable as a puff of
smoke, and his future meaningless, unless—and the thought
was a flash, quickly dissipated—he might by some un-
namable, single, heroic stroke discover the unifying fulfilment.

He was on his way, that afternoon, to see a relative, a dis-
tant cousin who had once known his mother and with whom
his mother had maintained for years a desultory and un-
reasonable correspondence. Miss Sprague—" your cousin
lanthe," his mother called her—and his mother had met only
once, at a small summer resort in south-central Kentucky,
Thermopolis Springs. His mother had spent several weeks
there one summer when she was a young girl, and Miss
lanthe Sprague, some ten or twelve years her senior, almost
old enough at that time to be considered an old maid, had
come with an aunt to stay at the Thermopolis Hotel. They
had spent several weeks together at Thermopolis Springs,
and though they never saw each other again, they wrote
letters, Mr. Munn had wondered before he went to Phila-